The Bettendorf, Iowa, city council has approved a proposal to add sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in its civil rights ordinance. The council voted 6-2 Tuesday night in favor of extending protection from discrimination to gays and lesbians after listening to pleas from several residents who shared tales of prejudice.
The ordinance change must be approved on second and third readings before being adopted into law. "This issue is not about special rights, but human rights," said Kris Clements, who lives in Bettendorf with her partner.
Few aldermen stated reasons for their votes Tuesday night. Aldermen Norm Voelliger and Tim Stecker voted against it. Voelliger said he felt the issue was a federal one, not local. At a preliminary meeting on Monday, Stecker said he was concerned that the council was going too far in extending rights to groups that are not protected under either state or federal law.
Five Iowa cities have included sexual orientation in their ordinances: Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City.